Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy feast-day
The preaching of the apostles still rang in his ears, wrote St Irenæus
It was about November-tide
A long, long time ago
When good S. Clement testified
The faith that now we know
Right boldly then, he said his say
Before a furious king;
And therefore on S. Clement’s Day
We go a-Clementing.
What on earth, you might ask, is ‘going a-Clementing’? Glad you asked!
On his feast-day, smiths used to honour his memory... holding a feast at night which was known as the Clem Feast... At Woolwich until at least as late as the first half of the last century, blacksmiths’ apprentices in the dockyard chose one of their number to act as Old Clem...

A contemporary account... printed in 1826... describes how the company went round the town, ‘stopping and refreshing at nearly every public house...’ The evening ended with a jovial supper and, doubtless, a good deal of hard drinking at one of the local inns.

In another account there is mention of children and young people also going round Clementing in much the same way as they went Catterning two days later on S. Catherine’s Day. This visited the houses of the parish, singing songs that began ‘Clemency, clemency, year by year’ or ‘Clementsing, Clementsing, apples and pears’ and demanding the usual largesse of apples, beer and whatever else they could get. Sometimes the boys added colour to the proceeding by carrying lighted turnip lanterns of the Hallowtide pattern.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving (the harvest festival comes a month later in the States and is on a Thursday). ‘We gather together’ and gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. Dignum et justum est. Here is LRC’s Gary North with more.

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